January 15, 2017
A Trip Down Memory Lane
It turned right at shore. It was so big I thought it was a pike at first.
I took Bob Skoronski "Green Bay Packer Legend" after it and Bob got an up close and personal look at it. He was astounded. Bob was using worms and soaked them for a good long while. He retrieved the worm and the trout was attracted by the worm wiggling on the hook on the retrieve and bum rushed it and literally came three quarters the way out of the water at shore. I could have caught it with worms. Where was the challenge? My 7 year old daughter could have caught this beast on worms.
A couple friends of mine went after it with me. I remember that they weren't quit stealthy enough and it blew out of the area as they walked up. The motorboat wake went upstream like its tail was on fire.
I went back after it maybe a dozen times. About half of those times it tormented me. My buddy John Armstrong had already moved away or I would have turned him loose on the beast.
I asked John if there was anyone from his guiding days at Madison Outfitters that was talented enough with a fly rod to trick it. He told me Jim Herald fit the bill. Jim was only 20 years old but he was a talented angler.
I called Jim and set up the adventure. It was obvious that Jim was skeptical at first. The beast lived in a high traffic area right in a small dorf in Richland County.
Jim approached the run from the crouch position. He even casted from his knees to lower his profile and avoid spooking the weary beast.
Twenty minutes later and three changes of flies Jim was ready to leave. I talked him into one more change of fly. He put on a size eight coneheaded bronze colored bugger. It was sparsely tied.
The second cast in there and Jim's reel was almost on fire. The beast hit and was leaving to parts unknown upstream. I remember watching Jim palm the reel as the giant brown peeled off line upstream. He didn't need to worry about getting the extra slack out of the line. It was gone within 2 seconds.
Jim finally slowed it down and got it on the reel. He was still in the crouch and quickly stood up. He turned it and got it coming back towards us. Jim got nervous and screamed for me to get in the water with the net and ready for a netting. I quietly told Jim I was already standing to his left with the net out.
It battled for an extended time. It did not seem to tire. It ran by us up and downstream a couple times. Jim finally instructed me to go ahead and net the dang thing.
I protested at first because I didn't think it was tired enough to net properly. Jim prodded me to net it. I walked out in the stream and told Jim to run it by me and I would give it a try. It came flying at me and I stretched my arm out with the LDH Net extended and netted the raging beast. It was thrashing and attempting to escape still.
We admired the once in a lifetime brute in the net. We guessed its gender. We both thought it was an ancient female. It had a pointed snout but no kype or even hints of a kype. When female browns get this big and old they tend to get a more pointed head. We did not measure it. It was not necessary.
I handed Jim the net and I readied the camera for a photo. I told Jim no one would believe us unless there were photos. Jim had the beast unhooked and it appeared to calm down enough for a glory shot. I focused the camera. Jim lifted the trout out of the net and it promptly went ballistic. Jim carefully lowered it back in the net.
Jim lifted it again and photos of the biggest small stream Wisconsin brown he will ever catch in his entire life were taken.
Jim held it by its tail and revived it. A millisecond after the above photo was taken the beast blasted out of Jim's grasp and headed for its watery home.
I never had it follow again.
The beast was never seen again.